Emre's introduction and annotations follow the evolution of Clarissa Dalloway--based on an apparently conventional but actually quite complex acquaintance of Woolf's--and Septimus Smith from earlier short stories and drafts of Mrs. Dalloway to their emergence into the distinctive forms devoted readers of the novel know so well. For Clarissa, Septimus, and her other creations, Woolf relied on the skill of 'character reading,' her technique for bridging the gap between life and fiction, reality and representation. As Emre writes, Woolf's 'approach to representing character involved burrowing deep into the processes of consciousness, and, so submerged, illuminating the infinite variety of sensation and perception concealed therein. From these depths, she extracted an unlimited capacity for life.' It is in Woolf's characters, fundamentally unknowable but fundamentally alive, that the enduring achievement of her art is most apparent. For decades, Woolf's rapturous style and vision of individual consciousness have challenged and inspired readers, novelists, and scholars alike. The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway, featuring 150 illustrations, draws on decades of Woolf scholarship as well as countless primary sources, including Woolf's private diaries and notes on writing.
[Merve Emre's] annotations illuminate how profoundly Woolf was responding to the experiences of illness and war in a novel full of both interiority and community, both suffering and life ... Emre’s annotations in this new edition of Mrs. Dalloway are both broad and deep ... many of Emre’s annotations are thoughtful explanations of how various critics and scholars have interpreted the novel ... These notes and insights alone would make The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway an exemplary edition, but Emre also includes crystalline moments of her own literary analysis. Sometimes she flags what she calls echoes — particular words or images that Woolf has used earlier in the book. These notes subtly point to the novelist’s careful structuring of the narrative ... The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway, with Merve Emre’s introduction and annotations, is its own kind of offering: an illumination of Woolf’s words that will bring the text to glorious life for today’s common readers.
Like similar volumes, The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway provides a scholarly and biographical introduction, lots of illustrations and extensive marginal notes that explain obscurities, identify people and places, and provide interpretive comment. Emre, however, isn’t critically neutral; she draws mainly on the work of her teachers and contemporaries, while pretty much ignoring older Woolf scholarship ... Emre prefers a relatively lean but elegant annotated edition, resolutely focused on explicating the work’s meaning and mysteries ... As befits an Oxford professor, Emre’s commentary on all this is both learned and lucidly expressed ... You may quibble with Emre’s The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway, as I have, but it’s an invaluable adjunct to Woolf’s haunting masterpiece.
... an awfully bold undertaking—a provocation, even. There is endless material to unpack in this deliciously intricate novel, one of the masterpieces of modernism ... if you can read the novel a little more analytically, if you seek instruction on how it works and why, then this new edition will tell you all that you wish to know—and more. Still, there’s one situation when only the annotated edition will serve, even for this reader. Among its many illustrations, it includes a selection of maps, tracing the paths that Clarissa, Septimus and the other characters might have walked that day in 1923. The next time I’m in London with a few hours to spare, this is the 'Mrs. Dalloway' for me.